12 May 2014

The Upper Tribunal (Land Chamber) has published recent guidance on the validity of service of service charge demands.

The Civil Procedure Rules, (the Court rules which govern civil litigation in England and Wales), include rules regarding service of documents. 

Under residential long leases, service charge demands must be served not only in accordance with these rules, but also in accordance with the potentially more restrictive rules that appear within the Lease itself.  The case of G & O Investments Limited v Khan refers to a clause within the lease which governs service of documents. That clause stated that demands for payment would be sufficiently served if sent by registered post or recorded delivery letter.

The service charge demands were sent by ordinary first class post and the Tenant challenged the service of those demands.  If the demands were not properly served, the Landlord would be unable to recover all of the service charge it had expended.

The Tribunal decided that the particular wording of this service clause in the Lease did not exclude other methods of service and so, in this particular case, the Landlord was able to recover the service charge.

The above acts as a reminder to landlords and managing agents that it is important to check the service of documents clause in the lease. Any demands should be served in accordance with those provisions.  Lawyers drafting leases on behalf of landlords should ensure that service clauses are drafted as widely as possible so as to ensure the landlord maximises their chances of avoiding problems with service of demands in the future.

Should you require any advice on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Ellisons Solicitors Property Litigation Department.

Joseph Brightman
Headgate Court, Head Street,
Colchester, Essex CO1 1NP

May 2014